November 20, 2017

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Numbers Everywhere: Mathematics | Series Made Simple Fall 2012

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With the implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the need for informational books has increased; math volumes must satisfy both the language arts informational text standards and the mathematics standards. However, publishers need to avoid rushing series to press at the expense of providing educational material that engages young readers. Most of the sets reviewed here can find places in classrooms as solid introductory materials or supplemental resources, but few of them will actually independently pique readers’ curiosity and enthusiasm.

Preschool-Grade 4

BRENNAN, Linda Crotta. Banking. ISBN 978-16147-32396. LC 2012932816.
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. Bartering. ISBN 978-16147-32402. LC 2012932817.
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. The History of Money. ISBN 978-16147-32457. LC 2012932823.
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. Managing Money. ISBN 978-16147-32419. LC 2012932818.
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. Payment Methods. ISBN 978-16147-32426. LC 2012932820.
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. The Stock Market. ISBN 978-16147-32464. LC 2012932828.
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. Supply and Demand. ISBN 978-16147-32433. LC 2012932821.
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. Taxes. ISBN 978-16147-32440. LC 2012932822.
ea vol: illus. by Rowan Barnes-Murphy. 24p. (Simple Economics Series). further reading. glossary. index. websites. The Child’s World. 2012. PLB $27.07.
Gr 2-5–
This series follows two fictional entrepreneurs, Tomás and Mia, as they learn about money through their successful lemonade stand. The information is solid and the texts are clearly written. The books are presented as separate stories, but a complete picture is formed when they are read as a set. Most of the information is imparted through dialogue between Tomás, Mia, and Tomás’s Uncle Tito, with other characters playing minor roles. Additional facts displayed in dollar-bill text boxes fill in the gaps. For example, “The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, is an insurance program for banks.” Illustrations are pleasing, and readers will enjoy the informal approach. These are top-notch resources for the classroom and great reads for students wanting to start their own lemonade stands.

HUTMACHER, Kimberly M. Hours. ISBN 978-1-4296-8577-1; ISBN 978-1-4296-9350-9. LC 2012004668.
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. Minutes. ISBN 978-1-4296-8576-4; ISBN 978-1-4296-9352-3. LC 2012004669.
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. Seconds. ISBN 978-1-4296-8575-7; ISBN 978-1-4296-9354-7. LC 2012004670.
ea vol: 24p. (Pebble Books: It’s About Time Series). photos. further reading. glossary. index. websites. CIP. Capstone. 2012. PLB $21.32; pap. $5.95.
K-Gr 1–
These rhyming volumes do not teach students how to tell time; rather, they try to help them understand the abstract concept. The books begin by asking what a second, minute, or hour is and go on to explain more about the subject. Each spread contains a clear color photo on the left and a four-line rhyme on the right, which can sometimes be awkward. For example, “Digital clocks have no hands./Only numbers in a line./Minutes come after the colon./Now we can tell the time!” Analog and digital clocks are briefly covered, and remaining pages are devoted to examples of how long a second, minute, or hour is, such as a second passes when “You clap your hands./Stomp your feet./Snap your fingers./Drum a beat.” A few examples are questionable (e.g., Minutes states children can “Practice math” in a minute), but overall they will provide fodder for classroom discussion.

MURRAY, Aaron R. Counting in the Desert 1-2-3. ISBN 978-0-7660-4051-9. LC 2011037459.
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. Counting in the Forest 1-2-3. ISBN 978-0-7660-4053-3. LC 2011039556.
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. Counting in the Grasslands 1-2-3. ISBN 978-0-7660-4054-0. LC 2011037460 .
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. Counting in the Oceans 1-2-3. ISBN 978-0-7660-4052-6. LC 2011038121.
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. Counting in the Rain Forest 1-2-3. ISBN 978-0-7660-4055-7. LC 2011039557.
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. Counting in the Tundra 1-2-3. ISBN 978-0-7660-4056-4. LC 2011039560.
ea vol: 24p. (All About Counting in the Biomes Series). photos. further reading. index. websites. CIP. Enslow Elementary. 2012. PLB $21.26.
PreS-K–
These small books ask children to count to 10. Each number is given its own spread. A colorful photo of creatures, objects, landscapes, or plants on the left faces a large number with a description, such as “Five eggs” or “Two big claws.” The objects to count vary: sometimes children count whole animals, but other times they count parts, such as cactus arms or paws. These titles are so basic that students will have no trouble using them on their own, except for the couple of photos where the animals are close together and one may be missed at first pass. Many of the stock photos are captioned and show natural wildlife scenes. These volumes may give new readers additional opportunities to learn their numbers, but they’re not particularly notable.

NELSON, Robin. Let’s Make a Bar Graph. ISBN 978-0-7613-8972-9; ISBN 978-1-4677-0065-8. LC 2011044696.
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. Let’s Make a Circle Graph. ISBN 978-0-7613-8974-3; ISBN 978-1-4677-0067-2. LC 2011045060.
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. Let’s Make a Picture Graph. ISBN 978-0-7613-8973-6; ISBN 978-1-4677-0066-5. LC 2011044697.
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. Let’s Make a Tally Chart. ISBN 978-0-7613-8975-0; ISBN 978-1-4677-0068-9. LC 2011044875.
ea vol: 24p. (First Step Nonfiction: Graph It! Series). illus. photos. glossary. index. CIP. Lerner. 2012. PLB $22.60; ebook $16.95.
K-Gr 2–
These basic books provide step-by-step instructions for creating graphs. Nelson features a set of characters with a task to accomplish. For example, in Picture Graph, three children “wanted to show how many apples they picked.” The instructions are clearly written and the illustrations that support the creation of the graphs are helpful. The photos attempting to show the kids in real-life situations can look a bit staged. Circle Graph is the weakest of the set, as it is too simplistic; the data is too easily divided to give students a full understanding. Each title contains a spread that tests children’s knowledge and another that gives them a recap of how to create the featured graph or more information. The questions require appropriate advanced math thinking and will challenge the youngest in the targeted age group. Overall, these books provide strong simple instructions and will give teachers solid supplemental material when teaching graphing.

RISSMAN, Rebecca. Counting at Home. ISBN 978-1-4329-6694-2; ISBN 978-1-4329-6699-7. LC 2011046705.
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. Counting at the Park. ISBN 978-1-4329-6695-9; ISBN 978-1-4329-6700-0. LC 2011046706.
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. Counting in the Forest. ISBN 978-1-4329-6693-5; ISBN 978-1-4329-6698-0. LC 2011046704.
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. Counting in the Ocean. ISBN 978-1-4329-6696-6; ISBN 978-1-4329-6701-7. LC 2011046707.
ea vol: 24p. (I Can Count! Series). illus. photos. index. CIP. Capstone/Raintree. 2012. PLB $24.50; pap. $8.95.
PreS-K–
These bright books encourage readers to count to 20. Each page represents one number and maintains the same word pattern (e.g., “Can you count seven basketballs, scattered around this court?” and “Can you count six tiny shrimp, underneath this rock?”). The pages all have a number line at the top, with an arrow pointing to the featured number. Photos of items, plants, and creatures are imposed on top of background drawings. Unfortunately, the illustrations suffer from lack of variety; on many of the pages the same photos are used repeatedly, usually in different sizes or facing different directions. Children will enjoy counting the objects with an adult, but those reading alone may lose interest quickly due to the repetition.

VOGEL, Julia. Measuring Length. ISBN 978-16147-32792. LC 2012933661.
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. Measuring Temperature. ISBN 978-16147-32808. LC 2012933668.
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. Measuring Time: The Calendar. ISBN 978-16147-32815. LC 2012933669.
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. Measuring Time: The Clock. ISBN 978-16147-32822. LC 2012933671.
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. Measuring Volume. ISBN 978-16147-32839. LC 2012933675.
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. Measuring Weight. ISBN 978-16147-32846. LC 2012933674.
ea vol: illus. by Luanne Marten. 24p. (Simple Measurement Series). photos. further reading. glossary. index. websites. The Child’s World. 2012. PLB $27.07.

Gr 1-3–This series includes historical information and facts about the use of different kinds of measurement; it is not a how-to set. On each spread, short paragraphs face an illustration or photo. The material begins with a history of the measurement. For example, Length explains that “Before people had standard tools for measuring, they used body parts.” The colorful illustrations are pleasant, but do not provide additional information. The short glossaries contain four to six words with pronunciation guides. The volumes stress the importance of standards in measurement and are thorough in covering different systems (metric and U.S. customary systems, Fahrenheit and Celsius, etc.) from around the world. Although these titles are not particularly memorable, they could facilitate good segues into meaningful classroom activities.

WAXMAN, Laura Hamilton. Cones. ISBN 978-1-61641-872-4; ISBN 978-1-61478-853-9. LC 2012007114.
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. Cubes. ISBN 978-1-61641-873-1; ISBN 978-1-61478-854-6. LC 2012007115.
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. Cylinders. ISBN 978-1-61641-874-8; ISBN 978-1-61478-855-3. LC 2012007116.
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 Prisms. ISBN 978-1-61641-875-5; ISBN 978-1-61478-856-0. LC 2012007117.
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. Pyramids. ISBN 978-1-61641-876-2; ISBN 978-1-61478-857-7. LC 2012007119.
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. Spheres. ISBN 978-1-61641-877-9; ISBN 978-1-61478-858-4. LC 2012007120.
ea vol: illus. by Kathryn Mitter. 24p. (Everyday 3-D Shapes Series). glossary. CIP. ABDO/Magic Wagon. 2012. PLB $27.07; ebook $27.07.
K-Gr-2–
This series attempts to provide a basic introduction to shapes, but it has mixed results. Each spread has a drawing of happy kids in common places: home, school, playground, etc. The illustrations are pleasing to the eye with good use of color. However, in some spreads the featured shape doesn’t appear often. The volumes consist of rhyming couplets–“Let’s have a party with tea for two./Cube table and chairs for me and you.” The texts focus more on asking readers to find shapes than providing clear definitions; their attempts to be catchy may make it difficult for children to learn much. These titles may be useful for one-on–one work with students, but could confuse independent readers.

Grades 5 & Up

WOODFORD, Chris. Area. map. ISBN 978-1-4339-7433-5; ISBN 978-1-4339-7436-6. LC 2011045528.
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. Distance. ISBN 978-1-4339-7437-3; ISBN 978-1-4339-7440-3. LC 2011052766.
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 Height. map. ISBN 978-1-4339-7441-0; ISBN 978-1-4339-7444-1. LC 2011045527.
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. Speed. ISBN 978-1-4339-7445-8; ISBN 978-1-4339-7448-9. LC 2011049256.
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. Temperature. ISBN 978-1-4339-7449-6; ISBN 978-1-4339-7452-6. LC 2011049255.
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. Time. map. ISBN 978-1-4339-7453-3; ISBN 978-1-4339-7456-4. LC 2011052968.
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. Volume. ISBN 978-1-4339-7457-1; ISBN 978-1-4339-7460-1. LC 2011045525.
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. Weight. ISBN 978-1-4339-7461-8; ISBN 978-1-4339-7464-9. LC 2011045524.
ea vol: 32p. (Measure Up Math Series). diags. photos. further reading. glossary. index. websites. CIP. Gareth Stevens. 2012. PLB $26.60; ebook $26.60.
Gr 4-6–
This well-written series is thorough in providing details. Each book begins with a page explaining the subject and then continues with additional facts: historical information, tools used for measuring, examples, extremes of the measurement, and measurement units for the U.S. and the world. Text boxes pose calculation questions (answers are given in the back of the book). The problems containing conversion calculations–a necessary skill for students–are especially helpful. Readers will enjoy the fun facts that help them visualize measurements, such as “330 children, standing on top of one another, would reach the top of the Empire State Building!” Color photos and diagrams help explain the concepts and “Hands On” activities conclude each volume. Readers will not seek out these books, but teachers will find them useful to introduce the topics or provide supplemental information.


These series cover some of the basic requirements of the CCSS for mathematics and provide opportunities, at a minimum, to “ask and answer questions about key details in a text.” Enslow’s “All About Counting in the Biomes” and Raintree’s “I Can Count!” provide introductory resources for counting objects, but are not standouts. ABDO’s “Everyday 3-D Shapes,” although catchy and colorful, may have trouble finding an audience. To begin a discussion about time, Capstone’s “Pebble Books: It’s About Time” can help teachers explain the concept, but it does not teach readers how to tell time. The Child’s World’s “Simple Measurement” series has clearly written information, but is not particularly memorable. Gareth Stevens’s “Measure Up Math” is good for older students and provides computation problems. Lerner’s “First Step Nonfiction: Graph It!” is a worthwhile addition to any classroom where young students are being taught to graph. The Child’s World’s engaging and clearly written “Simple Economics” is necessary if teachers discuss these topics. Overall, most series will be useful in classrooms if used one-on-one with students or to introduce or supplement a discussion. However, more engaging material would be more conducive to learning.

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